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Photography has changed the way I see the world around me.

Through it I discover new things and rediscover old ones. Like my island, New Caledonia.

This blog is just me sharing my world through my photography.

Hope you enjoy.

Posts tagged movie
SHIRAKAWA-GO

Japan

day seven

Traveling through the mountains via coach from Kanazawa to Shirakawa is fantastic. And especially beautiful as you head down the mountain and see the village in the valley. We arrived on a cool but sunny day yet we could see snowcapped mountains in the not too distance. Shirakawa-go is a small, traditional village within Shirakawa, best known for their gassho-zukuri style minka houses. Recognisable by their very steep and thick thatched roofs designed to easily shed snow. An interesting fact, the upper floors of the two and three story houses were used for sericulture, silk farming. Not sure if that’s still the case though. One thing’s for sure, they still grow rice. All the farmhouses have, at least, one small field around the house.

We strolled though the small village on our way up to the lookout, which has a magnificent panoramic view of Shirakawa-go. There are two lookouts or observatories, the Ogimachi Castle Observatory Deck and the Tenshukaku Observatory, both with quite similar views though the latter has a couple of restaurants and a few boutiques. Not much left at the Omigachi Castle Ruins near it’s observatory deck but the best view, in my opinion.

Rain had started to fall whilst at the observatories and didn’t really stop for the rest of the day. The weather changed quite quickly and we could feel the cold now too. We explored farther into the village, getting a closer look at the minka houses and crossing paths with not-so-scary scarecrows. There’s a lot to see around this tiny village too. Restaurants, cafes, boutiques, stores, museums, Shinto shrines, the Big Bridge, the Sho River, so much to see. We were here five hour and weren’t able to visit everything.

Cold and hungry, we ducked into Shiraogi, a restaurant that serves set meals. Very nice and inexpensive. Warmed up with soup and tea… OK, I had to try the rice ale too. Once finished, we made our way back to the bus stop for our coach to Toyama.

From Toyama we caught a bullet train to Ueda where we were staying for the night and catching up with my best mate, his wife and his family. We had just enough time to check-in before meeting up for dinner at a Japanese pub called Hananomai, near Ueda train station. After dinner we accompanied his parents and aunt back to Ueda Plaza Hotel, where we were also staying. We, on the other hand, headed to Uotami, another Japanese pub, just down the road from the hotel. All in all, a great catchup.

Just a couple of words on my thoughts about Shirakawa-go. In 1995 it gained the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Unfortunately, it is in danger of loosing this status. Here is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article on Shirakawa:

The local economy is dominated strongly by seasonal tourism. Due to the income from the tourists who came to see the gassho-zukuri villages, the financial condition of the village has been greatly improved, and tourist traffic increased further once the village became a UNESCO site. However, the increasing number of visitors has resulted in damage to the area from pollution, and by local inhabitants their homes into hostels, gift shops and parking lots, which in turn has endangered its World Heritage status. There is also a fear growing that the change to catering to tourists will harm the charm of the area's simplicity and fundamental Japanese scenery.

Shirakawa, Gifu (village)

Having visited this amazing village, I can attest to this. I really hope they find an equitable balance to keep their World Heritage status on one hand and profit from the economics of tourism on the other.

Once again, thank you very much for watching. Hope you enjoyed it. See you on the next one. Oyasuminasai my friends.

HIROSHIMA AND MIYAJIMA

Japan

day two

Ohayo my friends and welcome to day two of our trip in Japan. Today we leave Kyoto and head to Hiroshima. From there a local train then a ferry to Itsukushima Island, also known as Miyajima.

We had a late night and thus didn’t want to get up for the early train to Hiroshima. We decided to wait after peak hour to avoid the locals going to work and school. We had breakfast at Delifrance (of all places) but ate things that weren’t very French. Delicious though and their coffee brewing method is interesting to watch.

By the time we arrived at Hiroshima Station it was lunchtime. We left our bags at a luggage holder and went looking for something to eat. One of the dishes my friend, Géraldine, had on her to-eat list while in Japan was the famous Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. To our great surprise we saw advertisement for the dish everywhere as we were walking through the station. A couple of floors up and we found a corridor of restaurants with two or three of them specialising in okonomiyaki. We picked the one with the most crowd, Goemon Okonomiyaki, and sat right at the counter in front of the hotplates. A very memorable experience. From watching them prepare the dish in front of us, to tasting the meal, to seeing every single staff member saying goodbye to every single client leaving the restaurant. That was amazing. It was quick, delicious and surprisingly fun.

With our stomachs full, we started our long walk to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or more popularly known as the Atomic Bomb Dome. Though long, it was nice to see a little of the city along the way. The landmark is quite impressive in itself but to see how everything has been rebuilt around it, is just a amazing. It makes you wonder if there ever was a atomic blast. Walking around the park felt like I was on religious grounds. I’m not a religious person but I felt an inner calmness and peace. A respect for what had happened here and the courage and strength the people of Hiroshima, of Japan, had to get through it. And build a park that evokes peace. A well named park.

On the way back to Hiroshima Station, we walked by Carp Castle, better known as Hiroshima Castle. Actually, it’s the castle’s second compound that you see here. The original castle was, obviously, destroyed in the atomic blast and a replica built in it’s place. Now though it serves as a museum of Hiroshima’s history before World War II. We didn’t get to visit as time was short to get to Miyajima before sunset.

Back in Hiroshima Station, we jumped on a local train to Miyajimaguchi to catch a ferry to Itsukushima Island, better known as Miyajima. This is a gorgeous place. Little town atmosphere on the shores of Hiroshima Bay. The old and the not-so old architecture. The Itsukushima Shrine is amazing and it’s Torii is just a wonder. We got here in time to drop our bags at the hotel before heading straight back down to the torii. We stayed about two and half hours taking photos of it and the shrine, and watching the sun set. What a beautiful sunset it was too. Then we made our way to the town to have a look around and find one of the very few restaurants still open. Both Géraldine and I loved the main street of Itsukushima Town for it’s old look and atmosphere. It gave us the impression of being in a different era. We chose to eat at Mametanuki restaurant. A wonderful little place where the owner is, I think, English but the cuisine definitely Japanese. Very friendly place with good service and delicious food.

Once full and warm we made our way back to our hotel, Kikunoya. A beautiful hotel with a restaurant and onsens. When we told the receptionist we weren’t going to have dinner there, they happily showed us the locations of restaurants that were going to be open and advised not to eat to late as their kitchens close quite early. Very friendly and helpful. Oh and they have a foot spa at the front entrance.

Well that’s it my friends. The end of another wonderful day in Japan. Hope to see all of you for day 3. Oyasuminasai.

FROM ARRIVAL TO KYOTO

Japan

day one

Ohayo my friends and welcome to our first day in Japan. I’m travelling with one of my best friends, Géraldine. If you follow my blog or Instagram, you would’ve seen a couple of photos she’s in. This is just a small video of our arrival, train trip to Kyoto and afternoon visit of the city.

Because of the language barrier, I thought we were going to have problems getting around. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the moment you land to the time you leave the airport, you are guided and helped. We exchanged our JR Passes with no difficulty and they even reserved seats for the Narita Express train to Tokyo and also for our bullet train (Shinkansen) onward to Kyoto. I highly recommend the JR Pass if your trip to Japan involves a lot of train travels between cities. We bought the 14 day pass for our 10 day trip and calculated we saved between 40-50% on tickets. It’s even valid on some local trains, ferries and buses. 

Not only did we get to see Mount Fuji from the plan on our approach to Narita Airport but also from the Shinkansen to Kyoto. We were pleasantly surprise on our first day in. Another surprise was how delicious the food on the Shinkansen was. My best mate, Marcin, told me to try it out if we ever got the chance to. Not all Shinkansen have the food carts onboard but this one did and it was lunchtime. The bento boxes were fresh and oh so delicious. They even sell beer. What more can a man ask for? 

I was amazed at how huge Kyoto Station was. The number of tracks, the boutiques, cafes, restaurants… didn’t think it was so big nor that Kyoto was such a large city either. As soon as you walk out of the station, you see Kyoto Tower. I was looking forward to get up there.

We made our way through little alleyways to get to our hotel, the Karasuma Rokujo Hotel. We did have the help of an extremely nice lady, who went out of her way to walk us to the front door of the hotel. She was actually heading in the opposite direction. We were a little bothered but greatly appreciated her act of kindness. We found the hotel very well placed in Kyoto. Only a ten minute walk from Kyoto Station and Kyoto Tower. And not even five minutes from the grand Higashi Honganji Temple. Yet located in a very quiet area. We were very pleased with the Karasuma Rokujo Hotel.

We literally dropped our baggages and headed back out. We visited the wonderful Higashi Honganji Temple. I thought I was amazed at the entrance to the temple but when I saw the interiors of the founder’s and Amida Halls, I was literally in awe. These halls are stunning from the ground up. The structures, the tatamis, the decorations, the amount of gold… the beauty and wonder of it all really struck me. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to photograph nor film the interior of the halls but you can see some photos on their website.

Our next stop was Kyoto Tower to checkout the view for potential photos at blue hour. Unfortunately, as we approached the tower, police arrived and stopped everyone from entering. The policewoman that stopped us, later approached us with a translation on her phone saying there was a bomb scare and to move away of the area. So we went for a walk around Kyoto. Saw the torii (gateway) of the Fushimi Inari Taisha Otabisho and a couple of Geisha or Maiko, or just a couple of women dressed in Kimonos, I don’t know. We did head back to the tower in hopes it was all over but it got a little more serious. The police had moved across the road from the tower and men in black were now positioned at all entrances. We ended up taking photos from the Kyoto Station side and was pleasantly surprised by a small water, light and music display.

After blue hour we looked around little for a place to eat and stopped at Saikatei restaurant. We ordered sashimi, dumplings and a few other things, and a couple of Japanese beers. Service was quick, food was delicious and quite cheap for the quality of the food and service.

Well that’s it my friends. Thank you for joining me on our first day in Japan and I hope you will join me for day 2. In the meantime, head over to my website or Instagram to see photos of the trip. Oyasuminasai.

MUSIC : Zen Garden from Adrikm (YouTube)

NEW ZEALAND: NORTH ISLAND

A STROLL IN AUCKLAND

day 1

Before our New Zealand trip around the North Island, I thought I would start videoing my holidays. Maybe not the greatest idea after reviewing the footage but it’s too late now, I’m already back home. Sometimes I’d forget to record and other times I’d record things that were maybe not necessary. I quickly realised that filming on the go can be quite difficult. Nonetheless it was an experience that I will continue and try to improve upon. Well, I definitely have to improve. You’ll know what I mean if you decided to watch the video.

Now the video is very basic. There’s no narration or voice-over. That’s partly due to me not being comfortable in front of a camera and the other is, it would have taken me many takes before I would be happy with what I had to express. I’m hoping that will change as I try to improve my videos. The video starts at the backpackers place where we stayed our first night in Auckland. Yes, the video doesn’t start at the airport. I was so excited about the trip and getting to Auckland that I’d forgotten to even take out my phone out of my pocket. By the time we settle in our room it was nearing 6:30 pm. We decided to stroll down Queen Street to the waterfront. Along the way we stopped at Aotea Square for a quick photo of the beautiful arched sculpture. Mistake on my part, I used it for the thumbnail of this video but didn’t include it in the video. A reminder for next time. Then we walked through the night market where we stumbled upon a french patisserie. Once on the waterfront near Viaduct Basin, we settled for dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Frida Cocina Mexicana & Tequila Bar. A must if you’re ever there. We then strolled back up Queen Street to our room.

For those of you who are interested, everything was recorded with FiLMiC Pro on my iPhone and edited with LumaFusion on my iPad. They were the most recommended applications I found for filming and editing on mobile devices. Though I’m still in the learning curve, I really like the use of both of these apps. I didn’t have a gimble so the footage is quite (very) jumpy. Sorry about that.

If you haven’t been tortured enough, stay tune for my next video where we head up to Kerikeri.

TL - BURTY'S NEST

A sunset time-lapse over the 5 km cemetery in Noumea, New Caledonia. I've wanted to photograph this cemetery for a while but got round to doing it. They're well maintained and with all those gorgeous, colourful flowers on the tombs, I find it beautiful. The cover photo was taken the day before the video. I went back the next day for a different composition and the time-lapse.

The passing away of my friend this week seemed the perfect reason to photograph the cemetery. It also gave me the opportunity to reflect and remember him.

May you rest in peace my friend.

TL - KUENDU BEACH SUNSET

A time-lapse of the sunset at Kuendu Beach (Nouville, New Caledonia). The hut construction on the right is part of the Kuendu Beach Resort (IN RENOVATION NOW). I even captured a cruise ship passing by. I was disppointed at the time of filming but seeing it on the time-lapse, I like it.

TL - MONT DORE SUNRISE

Not a very good morning for spectacular sunrise photos but the video make you see things in a whole different light. I wasn't very impressed when I got up that morning and saw the sky overcast. Since I was already up, I convinced myself to head out anyway. I'm not an early morning kind of person so it wasn't an easy decision to take, you know. Glad I did though. Came back with this time-lapse and a photo I like very much that I titled Searching Mont Dore.